Indonesia’s forests are being cut to shreds at a phenomenal rate.
And by around 2020, Kalimantan will be balder than Telly Savalas. The forest completely destroyed. And just like Savalas, who is now dead, nothing will be able to bring it back.
Like most human folly, greed is behind this madness of course. It’s not so much money grows on trees but the trees are money. One large mahogany tree is worth US4,000. Or Rp36 million. Or the salary of one Indonesian timber worker for three years!
And as vast swaths of forests are being destroyed, the illegal profits generated are huge – at least US$3 billion per year according to rough estimates.
So where does this money go?
To local mafias, men in uniforms and rotund provincial politicians of course.
But most of it actually comes to Jakarta and into the pockets of the crooked businessmen that own the logging companies and their backers.
No wonder then that demand is growing in Jakarta for super luxurious apartments, like the Da Vinci Penthouses, which you can rent for a mere US$15,000 per month or buy for around US$3-4 million.
But not all the money stays in Indonesia of course. Loads of it goes overseas, and especially to Singapore, where according to a report released in 2006 by Merrill Lynch, Indonesians make up one-third of the island state’s rich:
A third of Singapore's high net worth individuals are of Indonesian origin, according to a report by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini. At the end of 2005, Singapore had an estimated 55,000 high net worth individuals, holding assets worth $260 billion, the report said. A third of these individuals were Indonesians with permanent resident status in Singapore -- 18,000 in all -- with assets worth $87 billion. High net worth individuals are defined as people who have net financial assets of at least $1 million. A total of 1.3 percent of these individuals are ultra-high net worth individuals, with assets exceeding $30 million.